How to Remove Wisteria

These recommendations are primarily for homeowners and communities that would like to start working in their neighborhood greenspace. For each species, we recommend herbicide-free control methods but have added an herbicide option for some species for those who are comfortable using them. These methods were selected while keeping in mind limiting soil disturbance, reducing herbicide use, and avoiding harm to other species that may be present whether they be other plants/animals. Manual removal is possible for all of them if you have the time. If the infestation is overwhelmingly severe/large, we suggest you look into professional control.

A great opportunity to learn is volunteering with us at a Forest Restoration project. Please view our Calendar of upcoming service projects. Also read: How to Remove Our Top 10 Invasive Plants.

Removal Difficulty: Hard

Removal difficulty is rated as hard because wisteria is very difficult to control. If the infestation is of high density, look into professional control.


Wisteria climbing up a tree

A curtain of climbing wisteria


Wisteria spreading on the forest floor

Wisteria growing in the ground layer


Cut and Treat

Wisteria climbs mature trees to reach sunlight and wraps around tree trunks like a constrictor. As the tree grows outward, these vines girdle the tree. To stop this, sever vines at the base of trees. Do not attempt to pull vines down that are above your reach. Cutting at the base will kill the vine above the cut, and they will eventually dry up and fall off.


Cutting wisteria vine

Use hand pruners or a hand saw to cut vine at chest height


Follow vines down to the ground, use a handsaw to cut at the base, and treat with herbicide. We use a high concentrate (between 18-50%), glyphosate-based solution. and add in an indicator dye to keep track of what has been treated. Be sure not to spray the herbicide anywhere but on the woody stem. Treat within 5-10 minutes, otherwise, the wound will dry and the herbicide will not be absorbed. Only treat stems that are of 0.5” in diameter or larger.


Pulling back wisteria vine

Pull back vine to make a clean cut


Cutting wisteria at base of stem

Cut stem as close to the ground as possible


Applying herbicide to wisteria root base

Apply herbicide directly to stem within 5-10 minutes after cutting



How to Identify Invasive versus Native Wisteria

If you see wisteria blooming in early Spring, they are likely invasive. species. Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) and Chinese wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) bloom in April/May, and may bloom even earlier as Spring is arriving sooner due to climate change. American wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) is a native species and blooms in June/July.

Here are some tips for telling them apart:

  • Pods of the Asian Wisterias have velvety surfaces due to a thick covering of short hairs. The American Wisteria pods are smooth and hairless.
  • Flowers on Asian varieties all bloom at once, while the native flowers bloom at the base and progress downward on the flower stem.
  • The Japanese and Chinese wisteria have pointed leaf tip, the American wisteria has a more blunted tip.
  • Both the Chinese and American species twine counterclockwise. Japanese Wisteria twines clockwise.

If you have any questions about this guide please email